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  • Matthew Gaylor
    Date: Fri, 22 Mar 2002 12:13:33 -0700 From: L. Neil Smith Reply-To: lneil@lneilsmith.com X-Accept-Language: en-us To: Matthew Gaylor
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 23 12:54 PM
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      Date: Fri, 22 Mar 2002 12:13:33 -0700
      From: "L. Neil Smith" <lneil@...>
      Reply-To: lneil@...
      X-Accept-Language: en-us
      To: Matthew Gaylor <freematt@...>
      Subject: Thanks, Matt!



      I've been writing for publication since I was about 10 years old,
      and writing novels for 25 years. In all that time, I've refrained from
      responding to book critics.

      In the first place, there didn't seem to be much dignity in it.
      Also, I've always figured a bad review coming from the right critic
      could only enhance my sales. Mostly, because critics as a class (I've
      known some) are failed subcreatures who can only make a mark in the
      world by attacking the achievements of others, I reasoned that the
      most painful wound I could inflict on them was to ignore them -- and
      let it be widely known that I never look at anything they write.

      In this case, I have no choice. It seems _Publisher's Weekly_ and
      _Book List_ don't care for my new novel _The American Zone_ (or what
      it's worth, _Library Journal_ differs with them), and that someone who
      agrees with them has posted their reviews on Amazon.com, so they'll be
      the first evaluation anyone sees.

      Understand, I don't care how _Publisher's Weekly_ and _Book List_
      feel about my work. I knew from the start of my career that socialists
      who call themselves "liberals" were going to hate every word I write,
      and resigned myself to nothing but bad notices. I'm surprised now and
      then by a good review, but in some ways those are more dangerous than
      bad ones, and I've never taken them seriously, one way or another.

      But I must take these reviews seriously, because this is not just
      an instance of someone not liking what I've written. It's an attempt
      to make what I've written go away because -- even before the terrible
      events of September 11 proved me right beyond question and discredited
      them for all time -- it casts doubt on their fondly cherished and
      hysterically held misconceptions.

      _Publisher's Weekly_ says, " ... lines like 'an armed playground
      is a polite playground' may put off those who don't share Smith's
      views. This preachy book sends a message that rings hollow in the
      world post-September 11." Mind you, an armed playground would have
      prevented the Columbine massacre and similar acts perpetrated in
      America's self-defense-free zones. _Publisher's Weekly_ doesn't care.

      _Book List_ says, "Nobody connected with the book is to blame for
      its release at just this moment in history, but ... the yarn's high
      body count, terrorist incidents, and such scenes as ... an 11-year-old
      girl buying weapons and drugs may raise hackles outside Smith's
      hard-core libertarian fandom." Would this reviewer really rather see a
      little girl raped in an alley and strangled with her own panties, than
      see her with a gun in her hand? You tell me.

      They like to play dirty. They grudgingly admit I couldn't have
      thought this book up and rushed it into print after September 11, but
      it would never have occurred to anyone to wonder if they hadn't
      mentioned it. They wish you to believe that's what I did. I can't
      recall when I began creating the characters and story that would
      become _The American Zone_, but in 1995, six years before the attacks
      on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, I read a synopsis of it to a
      convention audience. I have the videotape to prove it.

      Over the course of my career, like many another science fiction
      writer, I've managed to successfully predict thing like the digital
      watch, the laptop computer, the Internet as we know it, the collapse
      of the Soviet Union, that the Y2K "crisis" would come to nothing, and
      that individuals carrying personal weapons would trigger a precipitous
      reduction in the rate of violent crime.

      I'd never claim I predicted September 11 in _The American Zone_.
      (The calamity at the beginning more closely resembles what happened to
      Oklahoma City's Murrah Building, fresh in my mind at the time.) What I
      did predict -- the very reason I wrote the book -- was that an event
      like September 11 would be ruthlessly exploited by evil politicians to
      enhance their power, at the expense of everyone else's freedom.

      This, of course, is just what's happening today. September 11 --
      an historic equivalent to the Reichstag Fire that gave Hitler an
      excuse to turn Germany into a fascist dictatorship -- has given the
      current regime an excuse to Nazify America.

      Ironically -- at the risk of spoiling one of my novel's surprises
      -- it's just been announced that a group is being formed to harass and
      intimidate anyone who opposes this Nazification process. The man
      behind that effort is none other than former drug "czar" William
      Bennett -- who's also the "philosopher-thug" villain of _The American
      Zone_. Another accurate prediction from the keyboard of yours truly.

      In almost the same words _Publisher's Weekly_ and _Book List_ try
      to dismiss a major point made by _The American Zone_. A point brutally
      confirmed by the unavoidable realities of September 11. A point they
      don't want to be forced to think about. A point they don't want you to
      think about, either.

      The point? That September 11 couldn't have happened in a culture
      where anyone who takes personal charge of his own physical security
      may not be interfered with. If a passenger or two aboard each of those
      hijacked aircraft had been carrying a gun, the hijackings would never
      have happened. It would never have occurred to anyone to hijack them.
      Terrorists might have acted someplace else, in some other way, but not
      the way they did on September 11.

      The inescapable conclusion is that advocates of gun control (what
      I've learned more accurately to call "victim disarmament") must accept
      moral responsibility for 3000 excruciatingly unnecessary deaths. That
      blood is on the hands of everyone -- including reviewers at
      _Publisher's Weekly_ and _Book List_ -- who supports today's victim
      disarmament laws.

      No wonder they hate my book and don't want you to see it. But _The
      American Zone_ is something people need to read if we're to prevent
      more terrorism, and at the same time preserve everything that makes
      America worthwhile. Otherwise, I wouldn't have bothered to write it.

      From now on, when I begin to read their opinions of other people's
      work, I'll automatically wonder to what extent the political agenda of
      _Publisher's Weekly_ and _Book List_ colors their judgment. I suggest
      they stick with what's expected of them -- literary criticism -- and
      leave politics to those of us who actually know something about it.

      L. Neil Smith
      Fort Collins, Colorado
      March, 2002

      Three-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith is the author of 23
      books, including _The American Zone_, _Forge of the Elders_, _Pallas_,
      _The Probability Broach_, _Hope_, and his collection of columns and
      speeches, _Lever Action_, all of which may be purchased through his
      website "The Webley Page" at http://www.lneilsmith.com Autographed
      copies may be had from the author at lneil@....


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